University of Sussex Students from Turkey Commemorate Ankara Massacre on Campus (unpublished article for The Badger)

A group of University of Sussex students from Turkey came together outside the Arts A building on the evening of Tuesday 13th October to create a memorial of the Ankara Massacre, which took place on October 10th. Two bombs were detonated outside the Ankara Central Railway Station during a ‘Labour, Peace and Democracy’ rally, made up of over 20 civil unions; where over 120 people died and over 500 were injured in the attack. On Sunday 11th October, thousands of protesters gathered in London to commemorate the loss of lives in Ankara and condemn the terrorist actions of the Turkish government, accused of carrying out the attack. However, Turkish state media has blamed ISIS for the attack.

In light of the London protests and to give solidarity to their fellow citizens, a group of Sussex students from Turkey set up a memorial to those who were killed in the massacre. One of the students named Ardahan, who helped organise the event, explained the reason why the students decided to set up the memorial; because they thought “it was a terrifying attack on people who met in order to demand a peaceful Turkey and the end of violence. We know that we, students from Turkey, would also be marching for peace if we would not be studying currently in the UK. Moreover, bearing in mind the absence of any evidence that the Turkish state is fighting ISIS and the fact that no single person was arrested for being an ISIS member until today, we think that the Turkish state is responsible for the attack as much as the perpetrators are. Thus, we wanted to organize it to be in solidarity with the victims, and express both our sadness and anger.”

At the memorial, it featured a placard that explained what happened at the Ankara massacre, the list of all the names of the victims who died in the attack, messages of support from students, a list of violent terrorist attacks in Turkey since 2011, candles that spelled out ‘PEACE’, and a blue placard in Turkish which is translated to “We missed it to look at the sky with no blood”.  The memorial was received positively by students, albeit many of them were unaware the Ankara massacre had happened. “As some of the students who attended the event on Facebook knew it already, they came with candles and took part in the process of preparing placards and lighting candles. There were also students who did not know what the event was about, though. However, we informed everyone about the bombings and explained them why we had organized the event. When they learned about it, they told us that they are also very sad and that they are in solidarity with us. Most of the students took part in the process of lighting candles and expressed their feelings on the placards. Most of the students told us in person that they are very thankful for the commemoration and that it is of great importance.”

Students from Turkey have had strong reactions regarding this serious incident in their home country. Ardahan stated that many students from Turkey are “very sad and angry at the same time. We are very sad as it is our friends, families, brothers and sisters who died in the march. We know that one of us could also be a victim if we would be in Ankara, although that it is not very relieving that it’s not us, but others marching for peace.” He also discussed on the anger the students have towards the Turkish government’s reactions on the recent violence: “the state shuts its eye on the bombings and does not feel the need to take security measures to protect people marching for peace. We are very angry at the Turkish state as it attacked the victims with tear gas and water cannons after minutes of the bombings while there were dead and injured people all around.”

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